Wes Register's Blog
Devotions for the week of April 29, 2012
Read 2 Corinthians 1:1-14. Paul hinted at a major theme of 2 Corinthians in these first few verses. An attitude of spiritual superiority and intellectual pride that threatened to undermine Paul's authority and preaching had been introduced via false teachers whom had come into the church. After his greeting in the first 2 verses, Paul proceeded to write openly and honestly about their struggles for the sake of the Gospel. In contrast to the "easy believism" taught by the false teachers, Paul explained the purpose of their affliction with an emphasis upon God using it to increase their reliance on Him. The reality is that Jesus taught that those who followed Him closely would be hated by the world. Paul sought to clarify to the Corinthians that suffering for the sake of Christ draws the believer into greater intimacy with Christ and with other believers. So when you find yourself afflicted, suffer well, and hold tightly to James 1:2-4, remembering that Jesus is worthy. And in the joyful times of replenishing, be sure to practice verse 11 and pray for your family of faith!
Read 2 Corinthians 1:15-2:4. Paul's relationship with the believers in Corinth had hit an all-time low since the writing of 1 Corinthians due to the emergence of false teaching intended to discredit Paul and promote a false faith. Paul originally intended to visit Corinth only once as previously communicated (1 Cor. 16), but later decided to visit twice giving them 2 opportunities to be blessed by participating in the offering to the church in Jerusalem. The first visit turned out to be a bad one due to the rebellion against Paul's apostolic authority and an attack upon his character. In response, Paul intended to make the second visit a confrontational one but again felt led to alter his plans and instead just wrote the "tearful letter" mentioned in 2:4. Paul's opponents used these alterations against him to attack his character and motivation. In defense, Paul appealed to the character of God and the purity of the Gospel that he had preached to them originally, arguing that his actions were guided by the same Spirit of God that united them all in Christ their Savior. When we walk in obedience to the Spirit, we may be confident that our motives are pure and our actions blameless. Further, we will react in the love of Christ instead of the pride of self. Walk in the Spirit today meditating on Galatians 5:16 and remembering that the Spirit always leads us according to the Word of God. Be a James 1:22 believer!
Read 2 Corinthians 2:5-11. Yesterday's devotion noted that walking in the Spirit results in obedience to God's Word and conformity to Christ's likeness. Constantly remember that Romans 8:29 declares that God's plan for Christians is that they would become like Jesus and thus carry out His mission. Paul demonstrated this truth in how he dealt with the Corinthians. Paul had been hurt badly by the betrayal of the believers in Corinth. But he rejoiced that many of them had apparently repented by this time. However, their remained a minority that were still antagonistic toward Paul. This is especially difficult for a pastor who longs for God's blessing and presence in the lives of those he leads. But instead of seeking revenge, Paul set an example for the faithful by encouraging them to forgive the offender and love him with Christ's love. Remember, the goal of Christian discipline is restoration not just retribution. The reality is that Satan loves to stir up strife and disunity in the church. Guard against his scheme by practicing forgiveness and love built upon the foundation of the truth of God's Word. And while your at it, take some time to encourage your pastor today and make it a habit to pray for him!
Read 2 Corinthians 2:12-17. While Paul remained in Ephesus, he sent Titus to deliver the "tearful letter" that had been referred to earlier. Verses 12-13 demonstrate Paul's honesty and vulnerability regarding his difficulties which were especially inflamed when Titus was not in Troas with word of how things went in Corinth. But Paul's tone changes abruptly beginning in verse 14. Paul met up with Titus in Macedonia after being unable to remain in Troas because of his troubled Spirit. In communicating his delight upon the reunion with Titus and the receiving of good news from Corinth (ref. 7:5-9), Paul almost spontaneously erupted with praise and thanksgiving. Paul's exaltation was saturated with recognition of his own inability which was overwhelmed by God's supplied sufficiency in Christ. Because of this truth, Paul rejoiced that in Christ believers e empowered to become an inviting fragrance to others on Christ's behalf, by whom we are commissioned to spread the Good News all over the world. What do you smell like? Abide in Christ today (John 15:5) and fill your world with His intoxication scent.
Read 2 Corinthians 3:1-18. Paul wanted to make clear that his boasting was not in human prowess. The false teachers whom had done such damage boasted of their intellect and superior presentation and produced letters of recommendation from others they had deceived in their attempt to supplant Paul. Paul chose instead to boast in the sufficiency and supremacy of Christ. The spiritual vitality of the Corinthians made alive in Christ as a result of Paul's preaching was all the "letter of recommendation" that Paul would boast of. He did not apologize for his boldness in this regard but rather went on to exalt the glorious nature and blessing of life in the Spirit through faith in Christ. The church in America desperately needs to embrace and display this truth! The law of God declares us guilty and separates (or veils) us from God, but the work of Christ sets us free! Jesus is the bridge over the divide and destroyer of the veil for those who trust Him. Paul's boasting was that in Christ, he was made competent for good work and set free from the penalty and power of sin! Live this week as that which you are in Christ…. Peter 2:1-9!
Devotions for the week of April 22, 2012
Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-58. The truth of the resurrection is difficult to comprehend, but God's Word teaches us that we can count on a future resurrection in which we will have a heavenly "glorified" body of some type. The key is found in verses 42-49. The body we have now is doomed to perish, but what we will have then will be complete and eternal. Because of sin that was introduced to humanity with Adam, death became a part of our reality; because of Christ, humanity can be redeemed as those who believe are forgiven and have the hope of eternal life. Paul taught a similar idea in Romans 5:12-21. The hope of eternal life also includes our righteous standing in judgment and an imperishable, eternal body. Scripture teaches that to die as a Christian is to immediately be in the presence of Christ. For those, there will come a time of "reuniting" with a glorified body. The Christians still living when Christ returns will experience the great transformation described in verses 51-54. What a glorious day! Because of Christ we can quote verse 55 with confidence and live out verse 58 knowing that our obedience is not in vain! So live in the light of what you have in Christ… be fearless and faithful for His glory!
Read 1 Corinthians 16:1-9. Before closing his letter, Paul instructed the Corinthians on several practical matters. Apparently, the Corinthians had previous knowledge of the collection Paul spoke of in V 1. The collection was for the Saints in Jerusalem who were especially persecuted at that time. Such instruction regarding giving to Christians in need was common in Paul's teaching. In Christ we share a common bond as children of God and therefore should unite in helping each other as needed. Notice this unity at work in Acts 2:44-45. Paul taught them to give to help others as a part of their worship. Scripture indicates that giving should be a regular element in worship and everyone is to participate. While 10% has become the norm for tithing based on the Old Testament precedent, the important thing is for every believer to give generously and sacrificially. Remember Mt 6:33 & 2 Cor. 9:6-7 and be a faithful giver.
Read 1 Corinthians 16:10-12. Paul desired to come visit the church in Corinth and remain with them for some time to minister to them. But he chose instead to stay in Ephesus for a while to take advantage of the ministry opportunity there. Notice how Paul described this opportunity for ministry in verse 9. All productive ministry for the Kingdom of God will face opposition! Paul exhorted the church to embrace his protégé Timothy whom he had sent to Corinth. Timothy was a servant leader who was doing the work of the Lord. Anytime a leader is dong the work of the Lord, the church should treat him with love and respect. Paul illustrated this respect in V 12. He strongly hoped that Apollos would accompany Timothy and the other brothers, but Paul respected Apollos' convictions to remain. Read John 17 and think about how God desires us to work as a team to accomplish His mission.
Read 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. We would all do well to embrace this teaching and apply it diligently every day! Notice what is commanded: Be alert. Read 1 Peter 5:8, Mark 14:38, 2 Peter 2:1, 2 Tim. 3-5, Eph. 6:18, and 2 Peter 3:10-12 and identify things we are to watch out for. Be firm in the faith. Read 2 Tim. 2:1-4 & Heb. 12:1-2. Are you fighting courageously and running well? Act like men. This brings the idea of emotional, spiritual, and intellectual maturity. Read Ephesians 4:11-16. Be strong. Our strength comes from our dependence upon the Lord. Read Ephesians 6:10-11. Be loving. We will be known by our love! Read 1 Peter 4:8 & 1 John 4:7, 19. Let this truth shape your life and live out its
instruction each day!
Read 1 Corinthians 16:15-24. Paul had already (chapter 12) described how each person in the body is vital and has a role to play. We are to be unified in our mission to advance the cause of Christ and bring glory to the Father. We live in a world where authority is constantly challenged. Paul finished his letter by challenging the Corinthians to recognize, respect and follow those who were leading and laboring for the cause of Christ. As Christians, we are not to fight for our own rights, privileges, and respect, but are to seek to promote and advance the Kingdom of God and willingly lead and follow according to His will. Churches that practice this truth are both productive and refreshing. Paul also encouraged the church to put their hospitality and love for each other into action. Practice this instruction this week. As a sign of his passion and intensity, Paul signed the letter with his own hand rather than relying on the scribe. Finally, after warning against false "brothers" who don't truly love Christ, Paul closed his letter by blessing his fellow believers and stressing his eagerness to see the Lord.